My mother was the somewhat unwilling collector of black and white cow paraphernalia. From refrigerator magnets, to stuffed animals, to cookie jars, to earrings, if it had the familiar markings of a Holstein on it, we all thought Mom should have it.
Aunt Jo, on the other hand, was “into” squirrels and crows, and similarly, the family inundated her with useless little trinkets and reminders of what we assumed was her unending passion.
Both women passed away last March.
My brother and I selected a hummingbird to grace the corner of Mom’s headstone, as she loved them, too. My cousins chose a headstone adorned with a squirrel, and somehow found a permanent flower holder with a crow on it.
My total inheritance was the cow cookie jar that I had originally given Mom, only now it was filled with cow magnets. I placed the porcelain jar on a shelf in my rec room. It is a fitting tribute, and often the sight of it sparks both memories and tears.
A couple weeks ago, I happened to spot a rosin squirrel votive candleholder at Fred Meyer’s. On impulse, I bought it and mailed it to my cousin, suggesting they place it at Aunt Jo’s spot at the table on Thanksgiving.
In reply, my cousin mailed me a box of cutout gingerbread turkey cookies. I could smell them even before I opened the package, and immediately, a lump formed in my throat. For literally decades, Aunt Jo had mailed me turkey cookies every Thanksgiving.
So some of the traditions have survived, and the legacies live on. And that’s a very good, yet very bittersweet, thing.
Definitely an underreported news item, I recently read that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation had sponsored a contest to design a new and improved condom. Yes, that Bill Gates. The inspired idea for the competition was that condoms need to be easier to use, and safer, for all parties involved.
There were 812 entries—some by individuals, and some by major medical corporations—and 11 cash prizes of $100,000 each were awarded for the top ideas. There is also the possibility of collecting another cool million after actual product development.
I wasn’t two paragraphs into the article when my brain began bombarding me with a multitude of jokes just screaming for attention. And while encouraging responsible birth control is certainly no laughing matter, I was laughing my politically incorrect head off.
Seriously, this contest was sponsored by the head of MicroSOFT? I’d say any guy in that condition would find a condom totally unnecessary… Not only soft, but micro, too? Good grief! Talk about your virtual field days for stand up comics!
Examples of the winning designs include a condom that’s composed of a combination of cow tendon and fish skin as well as a “wrapping condom” that “clings like Saran Wrap rather than squeezes.” The condom of the future might have “shape memory” or come with “pull tabs” so no one would be “confused” about which way to slip it on.
I shared the article with my friend Rick, and he readily agreed that if he’d known about such a lucrative contest, he’d have submitted a few ideas of his own.
His best, by far, was the idea of a spray-on condom. He proposed something like a cross between “Fix-a-flat” (do I really have to explain this?), and “Stop Leak.” (He said it could come in different colors for different ethnicities.)
But I was afraid his idea would increase the likelihood that what the guys in college told me would actually happen—that if they didn’t find release their entire genital region would blow up—but Rick assured me that was only one of a number of horny male myths.
Well, more power to the Gates Foundation for tackling this tender topic. The results are sure to be more effective than using Alligator Baggies… But maybe not any less funny.
The Weight Report: YES, I have successfully kept my “Stay the Course” mantra throughout the month of November. I’ve even lost a few more pounds than I’d originally set out to lose. So I was feeling pretty cocky when I decided to check out where I fit on the official Height/Weight and BMI charts.
Apparently, after losing more than 100 pounds this year, I’ve still “overweight,” and my BMI is above the acceptable range. Neither one by much, mind you, but no matter how many charts I looked at, my height/weight intersection puts me just a smidgen into the “Hello, Fatty” zone.
What a pisser!
Nevertheless, I’m thrilled, delighted, and totally grateful for the transformation that has occurred with my physical body this year. I’m no longer wearing clothes with an “X” or two on the size tag, and I can climb plenty of stairs without huffing and puffing.
My Knee Doc is surprised and happy that when the time eventually comes for replacement surgery, I won’t be such an “at risk” patient. From my point of view, I believe I just postponed the whole thing for at least another decade.
So here we are, nestled between Thanksgiving and Christmas, when the “average” person gains seven to nine pounds. I used to joke that I’ve always been “above average,” but this year, I’m aiming to be an underachiever.
Not giving all the tastes up, but settling for just a taste is not an act of deprivation, it’s actually cause for celebration, and I’m happy dancing toward the New Year, despite those stupid, misinformed charts!
It must be something in my genetic make-up. I must be missing some kind of chromosomal cog in my brain wheel. There’s got to be someone or something I can blame for my lack of ability to truly see “outside the box.”
I’ve known about my “deficiency” for quite some time. “Spatial Thinking” was my lowest score on the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) back in 1975. On the test, they showed you three or four dots in a small square, and asked on which of the four options would those dots appear like the pattern if the square were folded in vertically in half.
Ok, maybe you had to be there to get the gist of this, but trust me, I had to make pencil dots all over the provided scratch paper in the hopes of getting at least a few of them right. I just didn’t think like that!
And I still don’t.
Almost two decades ago, playing the electronic game “Tetris” was all the rage. Except that I could never figure out how to twist and turn the image to best make it fit in the space below. And the Rubric’s Cube? Not a prayer.
I’ve never been able to curl my hair, cause in the mirror, everything is backwards, and the result just wasn’t pretty. My guy friends with boats have long known I can’t back a trailer straight down a ramp.
Last week when I tried to maneuver my own car up the beach approach, I had to turn completely around to stare out the back window to make any progress at all. And I still wandered off the hard-packed road and into the sand.
Maybe it’s a gender thing.
Tomorrow will be the first Thanksgiving without Mom.
A scant year ago, Mom was prodding me with her walker in my brother’s kitchen, reminding me (unnecessarily) to put lots of butter and brown sugar on the yams before I put them into the oven.
Clearly, I remember how she filled her plate to overflowing—twice! Her zesty appetite was only matched by her continuous chatter. How that woman liked to talk! Only when her mouth was full were we able to get a word in edgewise.
It’s difficult right now for me to begin to sort my thoughts, much less type them into coherent sentences, so I’ll just jump straight to the moral of the story:
Look around you tomorrow. Be conscious of the quiet joys. Memorize the moments. You never know what trials the next year will bring, or who will be missing from your table.